Saturday, 25 October 2008

Autumn on the Common

The clocks go back today which means when I leave at 7.15am in the morning I won’t have to get out the bike lights.

Friday, 24 October 2008

This thingy bit that keeps the chain tight

Just outside Seven Sisters tube station my chain had come off. I could still cycle but I could hear and feel it wasn’t right. Usually if I back peddle this will guide the chain back into the right position. However this didn’t work and when I flipped the bike into fold position the chain came off. By this time I was inside the tube station and had plenty of light to have a look. Having never having removed the back wheel before I had no idea how the chain should be. I turned it upside down, put the chain over the large sprocket but it was still loose. I was about to give up when one of the male tube staff came up and said the bloody obvious, “You’ve got a loose chain and pointed at the bike.” I was too angry to say ‘sod off’. Then I noticed the thingy bit, which is an arm/lever. Ah Ha! The chain goes around the thingy bit. 30 seconds later the chain was back on. I had to work out which way the chain went around the thingy bit.

Lesson 1. Use anger to keep going rather than taking it out on someone. Lesson 2. Go to bike maintenance class.

The red cape

I got this cape some months ago from Velorution. Sadly is looks better on the hanger than on me. 1. It has a hood that is just too large and this means it slips across my vision. Not safe. 2. It is too short at the back. 3. The extra long front to allow you to drape the cape over the handle bars is also not very safe to use. If you put your hands through the loop under the cape to hold it in place your arms are restricted from signalling. 4. The material is too stiff and restrictive for comfort.

In it’s favour. It kept me dry and it’s Red.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Slow cycle to market.

I was ill with tummy cramps for most of the day so I was wrapped up in front of the television watching old James Garner films. I had to do the weekly shop by bike instead of using the car. The pain finally passed at 4pm and I pumped up the tires, got out the large pannier I rarely use now and packed my lights. I got to the supermarket in 30 minutes and I was done in 1 hour. Felt better for the fresh air and slow peddling.

Love the fact that my Brompton is free standing when I need to stop and get something out of my bag on a train and I don't want or need to completely fold it.

Friday, 17 October 2008


It would seem that once again I will have to replace a reflector on the folding Brompton pedal. The case surrounding the reflector always cracks or breaks off. I am considering contacting Brompton to find out why this happens and ask whether there are any heavy duty reflectors they make. This is third time I have to replace this and I got the bike in February. I am too embarrassed to go back to Cromptons because the second time they said that this happens all the time. Do I have to buy a stock of them and just replace every few months?

Thursday, 16 October 2008

One more reason to cycle more

Got a parking fine because I overstayed by 8 minutes at meter. A meter that was on an empty residential street. I got annoyed but what is the point. I’ve got a bike and I just need to learn to use it for long distance journeys.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Brompton with mud

I had to leave the Brompton behind today, and I missed it. But I said hello to two fellow Brompton owners on my travels through the West End. One was a very tall woman at London Bridge wearing a long skirt. (I wanted to know how she managed to keep the oil and dirt off.) The other I met when I arrived at court and we had quick chat while we went through security. She said that her Brompton was a bit muddy at the as she had been cycling off road at the weekend. Of course I wanted to know how sturdy the Brompton was and she said that she had done a tour across the Pennines (without her Brompton) but someone else had taken theirs and didn’t get any puncture.

On my way back I saw two more Bromptons whizzing by. Is it me or are there more Bromptons out on the streets?

Other folding bikes

Occasionally I see other folding bikes. You can tell a Brompton by the arch of the curve in the frame. There are other folding bikes who also now have a similar curve. I also notice that they too are beginning to come in other colours like red. I’ve no problem with other folding bikes, I think that more of us on the road and on taking our bikes on trains the better.

Sunday, 12 October 2008


I always get tricked by weather in September into believing the warm weather is gone and it’s time to get out boots, gloves and coats. Yet in October we get a couple of really warm sunny days everything looks and feels golden.

Bikes on trains & tubes

Just read an interesting article on the BBC News website which was posted in May 2008 on how commuters are beginning to get angry about folding bikes on trains.


So far I haven’t had much difficulty with the Brompton. I always say excuse me or sorry if I bump into someone and generally I have found people are very helpful. I think this is because I am a woman and not wearing the Lycra uniform. I look just like everyone else but I am carry a bike which is smaller than most suitcases.

The tricky bit is getting off and on the train and the worse time is the mornings. It is hit and miss as to whether I can get to the luggage rack on the new style trains. Sometimes I make it but someone is already sitting in the top section. I then just ask if I can park the bike underneath which involves them moving their legs. Trouble with this is that I when I need to get off I have to get the bike out and then manoeuvre to the door without knocking into anyone. Lots of ‘sorrys’ and ‘excuse me’ are involved. I also opt for a carriage 2/3 down rather than the front. By the time I have partly unfolded the Brompton the crowd has passed on the platform I am at the back and out of the way.

I go home from Charing Cross and I just need to make sure that I am on the platform before the train comes in and this way I will get a seat and be able to park the bike out of the way. I could get on at London Bridge but this means that I will be standing for most of the journey home.

Going by tube involves other strategies. The only time I am guaranteed a seat is between Kings Cross and Seven Sisters where the train is either empty has very few people. The Brompton is small enough to tuck beside my feet and I opt for a seat by the doors. When I travelled completely by tube starting from North Greenwich this was a nightmare. It involved a struggle to get on the train, a struggle to get space and a struggle to get off at Green Park to change for the Victoria Line. Lots of stairs. I did this trip back in the early days when I just got the bike and I was tired, sore and thought I would have a heart attack.

Although I have the same right to travel on a train it is about consideration to non-bike commuters because they don’t have the option of cycling and in the end I want to convert a few to using a bike.

On the platform at Seven Sisters

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Taking time off from worry

Work is draining. I have got lots of stuff to do and like everyone else I am worried about everything. I thought ‘sod this’ and I cycled to the Dome this morning. I haven’t done this journey since my first weeks after I got the Brompton. It was a beautiful day. I got to North Greenwich tube in 30 minutes, no sweat. As usual the station was closed for engineering works. (This station is rarely open at the weekends.) The O2 was open and security guards admired the bike while at the same time warning me that I could not cycle on the forecourt (private property). The building work has expanded alongside the Dome which has closed the cycle path just before tube station. A new college is being built.

I cycled back along the Thames Path to the Thames Barrier. There were boats on the river outside the Yachting Club, I passed runners and parents cycling with their children and the Ecology Park was blooming. Once again I was surprised at how much fitter I am since February. Slopes that I couldn’t do before without effort were easy. I remember struggling just to find my balance while cycling around tight corners.

Sadly the path ends at the Barrier and I had to get back onto the main road. There was a traffic jam just outside the Woolwich ferry but I cycled between the cars (a previously scary feat) and left the queue behind. I cycled home along an empty dual carriage- way.

Note to self. Stop listening to the news and get on the bike instead.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Another yellow Brompton

I met another Brompton cyclist outside London Bridge this morning. This is where I get off the train and join the City traffic to Liverpool Street. There is generally a row of cyclists waiting at the lights just before the turn onto London Bridge. The yellow Brompton came up behind me and I saw it when I was doing my ‘look back’ check. I said that I loved the colour and the owner said thanks. He added that it was a last minute decision but he was pleased with it. He said bye as he passed me when we went over the Bridge.

What I love about owing a Brompton is that generally other Brompton users say ‘hello’.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Another trip through the park

Once again I sailed through Greenwich park at dusk.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Super strong, maybe.

I have been back to carrying my Brompton around the tube system this week and I noticed how much easier it is to carry up and down stairs, even when I am carrying a load of stuff in my Timbuk2.

I could always carry the Brompton but it was an real effort to do so at the start. My knees and arms would hurt and I would need to pause to catch my breath. I did wonder if I should have brought a lighter frame as I thought I would never get used to it. But is really was just a matter gradually building my strength and stamina, which I have. (If I was in my 20s this would be a breeze.)

Now I can carry the bike with one hand, no problem.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Beautiful & tough

I am not built to wear very high spiky shoes and so I am really glad when I come across a pair of shoes with a solid but elegant heel that I can wear all day and cycle in. These are my one of my favourite shoes. I brought them from Hobbs in 2003 and are still going strong. I have waterproofed them as they are nubuck suede. Of course I wear them with thick black tights and they make my legs look better.